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The fantastical rear wheel well rot thread


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31 replies to this topic

#1 gratefuldude

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Posted 23 June 2011 - 04:18 PM

I have been searching in the forums, and I am not finding an answer to a question that myself, and i am sure many others are wondering:

our cars rot in the rear wheel wells/quarters.

I despise bondo. SO!
I have searched the internet far and wide, but come up empty.

Where do we find good sheet metal replacements for this very common issue?
I am into VWs as well, and I can source just about anything sheet metal wise to repair the rot on those. Soobys...not so much.

Anyone got any ideas?
for reference: i have a 97 impreza obs

Edited by gratefuldude, 23 June 2011 - 04:19 PM.
more info


#2 thatdirtykid

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Posted 23 June 2011 - 04:44 PM

I am also a vw lover. I am new to soobs, and there isn't even a tenth of the aftermarket interest in soobs as vw's, especially the older ones.

My rotting rear wheel wells are going to get a generous helping of por 15 and probably left alone. Until I get some big tires and trim a bit off anyway.
There are a lot of junk yard rats here on the forum, but I don't know how many 97's are already junked.
Good luck!

#3 gratefuldude

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Posted 23 June 2011 - 04:47 PM

im coming from the school of thought that: all of our cars do this. there has got to be someone out there who has a handle on how to repair the issue the right way: sheet metal.

if not, someone could get into it, and make a ton of money, im sure.

#4 Ricearu

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Posted 23 June 2011 - 05:09 PM

I might go into the business of cutting wheel wells and arches and such out of cars at the junk yards here in texas. rarely ever do I see rotted soobs down here. The last rusty subaru I saw down here still had studded tires on it :lol: so I KNOW it wasn't from around these parts. I know were there is an impreza wagon right now that has 2 good rear quarters. only problem is they don't allow powertools out there.... :-\

I have a sand blasting rig and could ship the parts already stripped and in primer like a pro shop!

#5 bheinen74

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Posted 23 June 2011 - 05:51 PM

This is sort of a catch22 scenario.
1.The cost of having someone cut a car up,
2. then the cost of shipping the part,
3.then the cost of a bodyshop to weld it in,
4. then the cost of repaint of the car to seal it up good, is going to be more
than


5. buying an entire rust free west coast/southwest desert car.

you can do the math but pretty sure its cheaper to buy one already rust free.

#6 1982gl4

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Posted 23 June 2011 - 06:06 PM

Not if you do it all yourself. I just cut out the bad metal, weld in new stuff fill it , seal it and prime it, paint it/ the car. It's not 100%, but it will get you through a state inspection :grin:

If I feel like getting really fancy I'll track down a parts car with good rear quarters and cut them out (they are out there, just sometimes hard to find) and weld them on. I did that on my Impreza and my Brat.

But it is much easier to find a car that's rust free. They are out there, and I have slowly been selling my semi-rusty ones and finding good ones out of sate and going to get them. Then after purchase, I do all I can to prevent rust, such as por15 the spots that tend to rust, and then oil undercoat them (or not drive them in the salt/winter)

Edited by 1982gl4, 23 June 2011 - 06:08 PM.


#7 Fairtax4me

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Posted 23 June 2011 - 08:41 PM

Why not just make a patch panel? Or cut out the bottom section and replace it with fiberglass so it never rusts again.
I think most people just don't care enough to bother. The car's old, it has some rust, it has 200k miles on it, and will probably go 100k more (if they want it to) then be ready for the junkyard or parting out, or get sold to a teenager as their first car and they'll just take it out and wreck it. Owner buys something new/er.

#8 gratefuldude

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Posted 24 June 2011 - 07:42 AM

I might go into the business of cutting wheel wells and arches and such out of cars at the junk yards here in texas. rarely ever do I see rotted soobs down here. The last rusty subaru I saw down here still had studded tires on it :lol: so I KNOW it wasn't from around these parts. I know were there is an impreza wagon right now that has 2 good rear quarters. only problem is they don't allow powertools out there.... :-\

I have a sand blasting rig and could ship the parts already stripped and in primer like a pro shop!




Im up in the Adirondack mountains in New York: everything is rotted!

Im a welder/fabricator by trade: if you chop up some paneling, ill gladly purchase

#9 gratefuldude

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Posted 24 June 2011 - 07:43 AM

Not if you do it all yourself. I just cut out the bad metal, weld in new stuff fill it , seal it and prime it, paint it/ the car. It's not 100%, but it will get you through a state inspection :grin:

If I feel like getting really fancy I'll track down a parts car with good rear quarters and cut them out (they are out there, just sometimes hard to find) and weld them on. I did that on my Impreza and my Brat.

But it is much easier to find a car that's rust free. They are out there, and I have slowly been selling my semi-rusty ones and finding good ones out of sate and going to get them. Then after purchase, I do all I can to prevent rust, such as por15 the spots that tend to rust, and then oil undercoat them (or not drive them in the salt/winter)


been thinking about this too........

#10 Ricearu

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Posted 24 June 2011 - 10:12 AM

what do you need?
:grin:

#11 backwoodsboy

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Posted 24 June 2011 - 10:45 AM

Im up in the Adirondack mountains in New York: everything is rotted!

Im a welder/fabricator by trade: if you chop up some paneling, ill gladly purchase



Im not far from you in the Catskills.

We are in the salt belt. Bleh.

Theres another thread on here somewhere about everyones favorite place to source sheet metal.

I use old appliance metal. Washers/dryers/refrigerators.

Good quality steel for cheap or free! Ive fixed many cars this way.

#12 bheinen74

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Posted 24 June 2011 - 02:26 PM

there are always free fridges, washers/driers, stoves, on craigslist in the for sale/ free section.

#13 MilesFox

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Posted 24 June 2011 - 02:40 PM

It's too bad you cannot just buy a panel for these cars, but instead, you have to self engineer something that otherwise should be simple to do. It forces you to be clever.

no clever, no subaru!

I had to to cut and weld on framerails in my 86 gl coupe, cutting and replacing layer by layer, trying to duplicate the stampings.

I commend your efforts.

I understand everyone's opinions about gong after western cars, but i see no one making the effort to export them.

#14 1982gl4

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Posted 24 June 2011 - 04:24 PM

I understand everyone's opinions about gong after western cars, but i see no one making the effort to export them.


This^ I have been lucky enough to find ones locally from the south and or west. The farthest I have traveled to get a car was from vermont to virginia for my wrx (it was a good deal, and even newer Imprezas are getting rotted badly here :-\ ) I have been thinking of finding a rust free ea81, and having it ship here, I'd like to start with a good one for once and not have to deal with replacing quarters, and rockers for once.

#15 Ricearu

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Posted 24 June 2011 - 04:45 PM

my legacy is from kansas and it has WAYYY more rust than I am used to... im kinda spoiled down here. dont get me wrong, my 68 chevy is a pile of rust, but most cars hold together really well.

#16 bheinen74

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Posted 24 June 2011 - 05:34 PM

i would love to be mechanic in a rust free area, everything is much more cake to work on, no broken bolts, seized stuff, etc...
Being in the rust belt, no way i would mechanic as a living due to rusted.

#17 WoodsWagon

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Posted 24 June 2011 - 06:41 PM

The rear wheel well rust is just an outside result of rust further in. The problem starts because the outer wall of the rear strut tower rusts through. That lets tire spray run inside the quarter panel. It puddles at the rear corner of the wheel well and you get the rust through you see.

You have to fix the problem in the strut tower before you try fixing the rear wheel well rot, or it will just come right back.

#18 987687

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Posted 25 June 2011 - 08:49 AM

i would love to be mechanic in a rust free area, everything is much more cake to work on, no broken bolts, seized stuff, etc...
Being in the rust belt, no way i would mechanic as a living due to rusted.


Wrenching up here definitely takes a different kind of finesse than down south...
When I as working in a shop almost every car I worked on had some love from a torch due to rusty stuck stuff.

#19 SchwarzeEwigkt

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Posted 25 June 2011 - 01:11 PM

The rear wheel well rust is just an outside result of rust further in. The problem starts because the outer wall of the rear strut tower rusts through. That lets tire spray run inside the quarter panel. It puddles at the rear corner of the wheel well and you get the rust through you see.

You have to fix the problem in the strut tower before you try fixing the rear wheel well rot, or it will just come right back.


Yeah? Mine's rusting on the driver side but the strut mount is fine. A few others I looked at are similar. I always thought it was that they rolled the panel in a dumb way.

For what it's worth, I'm going to grind out the bad stuff, hit it with rust reformer/primer stuff, and leave a hole. I could care less.

#20 WoodsWagon

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Posted 27 June 2011 - 04:51 AM

Yeah, I can almost guarantee it's rotted through in the strut tower if it's rusting out on the quarters. You just haven't reached your hand into the right spot. You can't see it unless you stick your head in the wheel well with the wheel removed. It's the box that the strut goes up into, and it will only have 3 walls left. The wall that meets the wheel house crumbles to nothing.

#21 lmdew

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Posted 27 June 2011 - 06:03 AM

My 98 OBS is rusted in the rear quarters but the strut towers are solid.

IMHO the problems is the 3 or 4 layers of metal that all come together here. Any moisture/salt that gets in there never comes out.

If you cut and weld, you have to work out a ways from the wheelwell so you can get the inner and outter metal welded up.

I have some rear panels about 6 x 12" for a 98 OBS if you need them

#22 jarl

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Posted 09 July 2011 - 07:28 AM

Interesting... do you mean you have the actual piece of panel that normally rusts, but intact? I assume it's just the outer( visible) sheetmetal

#23 NOMAD327

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Posted 09 July 2011 - 08:55 PM

I found guidance from this and other threads and have made welded repairs to the inside of the fenders. (Thanks 91Loyale!) I paid a welder $50 a side, and well worth it in my mind. If you reach up inside the wheel opening with your fingers pointing out, the fenders liners rust through all the way up. On my 99 OBW, it was about to go, and I actually could feel my fingers push through the metal it was so close. It ended up being an opening about 1/2" top to bottom and about 4" wide up by the top of the struts but on the outer side. This would allow water and dirt to enter the fender where it would be trapped. I suspect this is the true cause of the quarter panels rusting through behind the wheel opening, which is just starting to be common on 95 to 99 models here in pennsylvania. My car had not started to rust out visually yet, I'm hoping this will prevent it from happening for a while at least.

#24 lmdew

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Posted 10 July 2011 - 01:14 PM

Yes, I cut out a section from a 97 OBS that was in a wreck and I parted. I have both sides. About 6" high by 12" long.

#25 jarl

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Posted 11 July 2011 - 10:27 AM

I may be interested in one of those panels... as soon as I confirm the rest of the car is in good running order. Good to meet people outside the rust belt :)

Edited by jarl, 18 July 2011 - 07:44 PM.





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